on the Relationship Between the ROCOR and the ROC/MP
On Tuesday, June 29, after lunch, a round-table discussion was held
on the present state of the Russian Church.
Protopriest Sergei Kotar began by recounting the history of the
changes of his view of the Moscow Patriarchate. Fr. Sergei himself
always grieved over the problems of the Russian Church and the Russian
people. He considers himself a member of that group of Russian ĪmigrĪs
who "lived on their suitcases," that is, attentively followed
events in the Soviet Union, reacted to them, and was ready to move
there if the conditions of Bolshevik terror changed. For this reason,
Fr. Sergei participated for many years in the "Ochag"
[hearth, breeding ground] project, which worked on reprinting and
sending banned literature to the USSR. His many years of contact
with Archbishop Anthony (Medvedeff) of blessed memory, who always
displayed a great love and understanding for all the needy, helped
Fr. Sergei to look upon his suffering compatriots in the homeland
without prejudice. On the other hand, travels and contact with church
dissidents at the very beginning of perestroika caused him some
consternation, especially when it was apparent that these dissidents
did not attempt to cooperate in their opposition to the existing
political and ecclesiastical order, but actually competed with one
another. This created the impression that dissidents were not interested
in church or political issues, but in their own glory. Finally,
in December 2003, Fr. Sergei went to the Expanded Clergy Conference
in Nyack, NY, with an open mind, and eager to learn about the actual
state of affairs. Listening to the representatives of the Moscow
Patriarchate, and also to those who were in the extreme, and often
illogical expressions of the opposition, Fr. Sergey understood that
the time has come to leave the past behind, and to begin to work
towards overcoming differences.
After the morning lecture of Protopriest Maksim Kozlov, "To
be Orthodox in Russia Today," Fr. Sergei clearly saw that the
problems in Russia and abroad are analogous: we, Orthodox, are in
the minority, living in fact within a pagan (or post-Christian)
world. Fort his reason, in order to overcome these problems with
the aim of leading souls towards salvation in Christ, it is necessary
to apply all our efforts for the elimination of disagreements in
the Russian Church.
Then, Protopriest Maksim spoke of the feelings of many faithful
who were born in the USSR. Such believers hoped that the time would
come when it would be possible to be openly faithful, to attend
church freely, and not fear losing their jobs or residency documents.
At the same time, these people did not dare hope that they would
see such a time come in their lifetimes. Fr. Maksim had never met
anyone from the Catacomb Church, had no contact with them, and no
one from among his acquaintances had any, either. But the Church
Abroad was known, some knew of it well, others not so well. But
it was clear to all that after the fall of communism, the unity
of the Russian Church was an obvious necessity. After the fast-paced
processes which began in the Moscow Patriarchate after the celebration
of the Millennium of the Baptism of Russia, many were bewildered
as to why unification had not occurred. It was especially painful
to see the opening of parishes of the Church Abroad in Russia, and
the scandals which often accompanied the opening of these parishes.
For the Moscow Patriarchate, the Church Abroad must return in the
capacity of the preserver of the untainted tradition and conservatism.
At the conclusion, Protopriest Peter Perekrestov expressed the notion
that there are times when one must hold the fort, and times to do
constructive work. Now, thinks Fr. Peter, is the time of leaving
behind old walls and concentrate all our efforts in joint construction,
the exchange of experience, and the guiding of the souls of our
flock, wherever they may be, inside the walls of the Church of Christ.
After the speeches, a lively discussion ensued, in which the youth
showed an interest and concern in this matter. Questions touched
upon ecumenism, spiritual life and administration. Fr. Sergei also
explained that in the event that Eucharistic communion is reestablished,
the administration of the Church Abroad will remain the same as
it is now.
Protopriest Yaroslav Belikoff